Homemade Play-doh With Natural Dyes

Our family has been out of homemade play-doh for a little while now. The kids ask when I can make some more. Today, I decided to make some and I had a last minute inspirational idea. Natural dyes. Turmeric, coffee and berry juice. I did not research into any other ideas yet, but these items I had on hand. I would have loved to use beet juice, but I did not have any. Next shopping trip I will pick some up. I can even prepare the beets and freeze the juice. Ice cube tray will do very nicely to get a good amount.

Here is the recipe for making play-doh. Recipe #1 is my favourite. It stays soft and pliable. It is easy to wash and comes with no plastic container from the store. I have been making this play-doh for over 2 years. It is 100% better and does not have such a strong odor as the store bought.

Turmeric, small coffee from reusable keurig pod, frozen raspberries and blueberries
I put the frozen berries in the microwave on defrost for a couple minutes, they softened right up and were easy to mash.
Strained both to separate the juice. The raspberries were much harder to strain because of the particle size. Strainer and utensil to push the juice out worked.

Jack was my helper for most of the play-doh making. He was super excited! First we made the raspberry dye play-doh. The colour came out a very light pink. Could have used more juice for a darker colour. I would say we used about a tsp worth. I will add, my camera on my tablet is not so well. The colour is much better in person compared to the pictures.

about a tsp worth of raspberry juice
Jack mixing away before the heat gets turned on
constant mix with a scraper. Don’t let it burn!
Getting thick, keep mixing and scraping all around
Almost done. Lots of play-doh residue on the sides and bottom of the pot, normal. Don’t over cook it, or it will be dry and not so good! A little moist is great!
Let it cool on a cutting board for a minute, then knead by hand until smooth. Any moist spots will work itself out. I recommend the cutting board for kneading as you don’t want the dye on the counter (Natural dye or store bought dye).
Smooth and ready for fun. It is a light shade of pink. Camera is not so good. Let cool before adding to air tight container. I recommend to roll it wide and flat for the cooling process to happen quicker. The longer it is exposed to the air the dryer it will get (as it is with any play-doh).

Next came the blueberry dye. This one turned out a light purple. It could also use a larger amount of juice for the dye. I would say I used about 2 tsp. I did not measure.

about 2 tsp of blueberry juice.
Jack mixing away.
a light shade of purple
almost ready to come out
Ta-da
Bit of a better picture for the colour difference. pink on left, purple on the right.

Next came the coffee dye. Yes the play-doh smells like coffee! just slightly though, and the kids do not eat the play-doh. That has never been a problem. Maybe a lick here and there when pretending to make ice cream. lol. Nothing for me to worry about, really. So instead of using 1 cup of water to start, I used 1/2 a cup of water and 1/2 a cup of coffee for the dye. The colour turned out a light tan. I could have probably boiled off more water from the coffee, but I was experimenting and tried just a small brew to concentrate it that way.

Light tan colour.
Nearly there.
complete with a hand print
a picture to show the colours. Pink on top, purple on the bottom and tan on the right.

Next came the turmeric. I added a 1/2 tsp to start, but the colour was the same as the coffee, or very close. I added another 1/2 tsp, and there was not a whole lot difference. So I took some mustard powder, 1/2 tsp worth and it brightened the colour a little. by the time I had the yellow I was looking for, I used 2 tsp of turmeric and 2 tsp of mustard powder. This one is my favourite. It came out bright.

2 tsp both turmeric and mustard powder
Almost done
A little gooey, must kneading it helped so much. A little under cooked is better than over.
Do you see the flower?
Top left is pink, top right is tan, bottom left is purple and bottom right is yellow.

Last came plain old white. No dye is needed for this one.

mixing and mixing.
Love it
Top left is pink, top right is purple, bottom left is white, bottom right is yellow, and the small ball is tan. Jack an Thomas already got into these to play.

For this process, I was using two pots, a whisk and a silicone scraper. As one play-doh was finished cooking, the used pot was set aside to cool. A new pot was put on the stove with ingredients added. No heat turned on yet. The cooled pot was put in an empty sink and filled with water to loosen the dried/baked on play-doh. That would soak until the new batch of play-doh was ready, which the hot pot would be set to the side to cool and the pot in the sink ready for a wash out, dry and use. The cooled pot would get a soak and repeat until finished. The utensils would get a quick rinse in between so colours would not mix.

Jack is busy trying out the new play-doh.
Busy Thomas is from toys to play-doh, back and forth and both at the same time.
The play-doh gets stored in the reused yogurt containers.

I am hoping the natural dyes will stay well with the play-doh. Chris was wondering if the dyes would stain clothing. After handling the play-doh myself (kneading), there was not stain on my hands. So I think it will be fine. I still have store bought dyes to use up as well.

Jack was asking if I could make blue play-doh. I don’t know off hand what to use to make blue dye naturally. I ran out of cream of tartar as well, so next time blue play-doh for Jack.

I would like to find natural dyes for Red, Blue, Green, Orange and Black.
Beet juice is on my list. I want to find natural dyes without packaging as much as possible.

Raspberries = light pink (need more than a tsp)
Blueberries = purple (need more than 2 tsp)
Turmeric and mustard powder = yellow (Great with 2 tsp each)
Coffee = tan (need a more concentrated coffee)

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